The dark side of Italian tomatoes (part 1)

In Navrongo, Upper East Region, Ghana, fields that once abounded with tomato plants are now deserted. The peasants have changed their culture or abandoned their land.

Along the road leading from Tamale to Navrongo, the tomato pyramids waver in the wake of trucks loaded with empty crates, launched at full speed on the axis that connects the North and the South of Ghana. The din of the engines, the hoot of the horns, the squeaking of the trailers, cover the shouts of the women who every day come to settle there trying to sell their produce. In vain, the fresh tomato is no longer recipe.
On the market stalls, the vendors complain. In their wicker baskets, the purple tomatoes shining in the sun end up spoiling and rotting. Clients no longer want fresh produce, but they snatch the boxes of Salsa, Gino and Obaapa, brands of canned tomato concentrate imported from Italy or China.
‚ÄúThere is tomato in all Ghanaian dishes, but tomatoes produced here do not sell.” The leader of the small peasant community of Vea, is bitter. “We no longer grow tomatoes. I do not know who to sell them “
Twenty years ago, the cultivation of tomatoes was still flourishing in this agricultural region of northern Ghana. All the farmers cultivated a few hectares, with the assurance of being able to sell them at a good price. But in the early 2000s, the gold mine turned into a curse. The failed experience of the Pwalugu processing plant, the competition from neighboring Burkina Faso and, above all, the arrival of a wave of imports of preserved tomatoes from Italy and China, region. “We have been betrayed” storm a woman. In 2007, she was named “farmer of the year” by the government and was honored in Accra, the Ministry of Agriculture and then in state television studios. At the time her fields were full of tomatoes. Today, it now maintains only a few parcels, practicing subsistence agriculture. Debt-stricken, after investing all their economies in land, seeds and labor, some tomato farmers ended their lives in 2007, others have abandoned their land.
Makola Market, the central market of Accra – one of the largest in West Africa – is the commercial heart of the capital. A veritable ant-hill, in which women in their cartoons and basins filled with merchandise are brushed by a crowd of street vendors in a maze of throats, crowded with trucks still loaded with goods of all kinds.

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